Share on Facebook  |  More Articles

Published Wednesday July 29th, 2009 at 6:31pm

Original Article by Lori Holden

As an adoptive mom, I bring only a small piece of the open adoption mosaic. Occasionally, this space will feature the views of firstparents, adoptees, and other adoptive parents, as well.

To bring the perspective of a first/birth parent, I have invited Leigh to write her observations. Leigh, who blogs at Sturdy Yet Fragile, just celebrated her first wedding anniversary, and is expecting a baby in the coming days. The impending birth comes 8 years after Leigh placed her first child, a daughter, in a semi-open adoption.

Let's Put the Stereotypes to Rest

I often come across certain word when reading about birthparents and adoption: relinquishment. lists these synonyms: leave, quit, forswear, desert, resign, See Abandon. Merriam-Webster offers "to withdraw or retreat from: leave behind" as their first definition.

Ouch. As a birthparent, I can tell you that hurts.

People with limited exposure to adoption may have stereotypical perceptions birthparents, with a placing mother as cracked out or unfit woman who have no regard for her child and therefore is happy to pass the baby along to someone else and who never looks back. Abandon, desert, leave behind, quitter. That's what she does and who she is.

What I wish is for people to realize the strength and courage that these women possess, and to start seeing them as heroes who do what they think is best for their child even if in the doing, their own hearts are broken.

For many of the women who have freely chosen this most difficult path, they have come to the painful conclusion that, yes, their child is better off in the hands of another. This decision is not made flippantly, but with a heavy heart and after endless soul searching for a perfect solution that seems just out of their grasp. In their hearts they never let go, they never forget, they would never abandon that infant and they will always love that child.

It was almost eight years ago that I placed my daughter in a semi-open adoption and I still think about her all the time. My dreams at night haunt me as I am holding a small, precious baby and then, suddenly, I can't find her. Someone has taken her from me and I don't know where she is. I want to care for her, help her, save her, but she's gone. Lost and found, that's the mind game that my brain plays on me deep in the realms of my REM cycles.

For Melissa, a birthmother whose first daughter was adopted in 1999, her feelings of loss regarding that adoption have started to manifest themselves in the form of separation anxiety from her daughter Twila. And then there's Lauren, who has a six year old son in a semi-open adoption. Her blog title says it all: You Never "Get Over It".

The women who write about this most personal topic are as diverse as their stories and experiences. Forcing birthmothers into one unattractive mold is not only unfair to us, but it places limitations on a discourse that could prove so beneficial to all parties involved in adoption: to adoptive parents, to the children, and to those women (and men) who choose to place a child.

Let's face it: adoption is a necessary option (among others) for people in unintended pregnancies. It is encouraging to watch the landscape change as more and more people -- involved parties as well as bystanders -- start to embrace the notion of an open adoption. Dialogue about openness, as well as ethics, will help people better understand where each triad member may be coming from, and help put stereotypes to rest.